Impact of Wearables in Marketing - "How not to be creepy"

Friday 23rd October 2015 02:33pm
By James MacLeod, Reload Media

Key Takeouts: 

•    When using digital marketing with wearables: “Don’t be creepy.”
•    Optimise your plain text emails for wearables
•    Understand how to be marketed to on wearables
•    Wearables won’t always be extensions to other devices
•    Bring genuine value to the consumer experience

For my first ever Networx event the topic really struck a chord with me. Being a tech ‘nerd’ for a while now, I’ve always been interested in the ways technology can improve our everyday lives, but since working in the digital marketing space, the opportunities for using these devices to enhance the marketing experience for the consumer, as well as the marketer, have increased dramatically. 

The panel for the evening starred Jordan Duffy – Director of IT Strategy and Innovation at Buckham & Duffy Consultants (and self-confessed part cyborg), Matt Granfield – Head of Customer Marketing and Digital at Heritage Bank (who Skyped in from Toowoomba), Kelly Newbery – Content Marketing Manager at Vision6 and for her final appearance as panel chair, Cat Matson – Chief Digital Officer for the City of Brisbane.

So What is Wearable Technology?

Wearables are a device that an individual can wear which connect them to the world through the power of the internet, hence the term ‘Internet of Things’ or ‘IoT’ for short. Most wearables right now come in the form of watches but there are other examples of these devices which have become more prominent over the past couple of years, namely Google Glass (which was demonstrated live at the event by Jordan Duffy) and other augmented reality devices such as Microsoft HoloLens.

Google Glass

Although wearables don’t always have to come in the style of ‘accessories’, the Power Suit by M.J. Bale is another example of wearable technology (taken quite literally) with a contactless payment chip embedded in the cuff of the jacket. For the passionate sports fans the Alert Shirt by Foxtel allows the viewers to feel the sensations a player feels when watching the game. For example if the player is tackled, the person wearing the alert shirt will feel the physical impact.

MJ Bale Power Suit

I believe that wearables will enhance our lives over the coming decade as they get more powerful and smaller, but until then they will just be an accessory for consumers to wear and for companies to gain data from.

I currently wear a Pebble Steel which has been out for a while now, simply because the other smartwatches that were around at the time, were either unaffordable or a size that looked like you were wearing a computer on your wrist. The Pebble does offer notifications for emails and other apps when it is connected to my phone but, I quickly turned them off due to the frequency of notifications I was getting. Also, due to the fact that the notifications weren’t very helpful as they were only a couple of words long.

Optimise Now!

As more wearable technology becomes mainstream, (as highlighted by Kelly Newbery), digital marketers need to start optimising their EDMs now. This way you can get a head of the curve when it does become commonplace and have the added bonus of pleasing (or testing on) the early adopters of this technology.

Understand the Experience

Digital Marketers need to really understand the experience of receiving marketing through wearables before deciding to use it as a part of their strategy. As raised by Kelly Newbery, you should find a friend, colleague or family member who has a wearable and either talk through the experience or borrow it for a while and experience it for yourself.

I eventually turned off the notifications on my Pebble Smartwatch because it was buzzing all day, and most of those notifications were from newsletter emails or EDMs, so understanding the experience of receiving marketing through a wearable is invaluable to being able to implement an effective strategy.

Wearables are Extension Devices

Currently wearables are used as extension devices. This means very few of them can connect directly to the internet or the outside world without the support of another device such as a smartphone.

This is only a limitation right now, as there are always more models and manufacturers releasing more wearables. 

Marketing to Wearables is Useless Without Context

As the old adage goes: “Content is King, but context is Queen” so the same goes for marketing to wearables. Consumers don’t need to know what specials you’re offering in your Ipswich store if they’re walking through your Milton store. Wearables will eventually be able to give this very precise geolocation based marketing.

Cat Matson suggested that the use of wearables reading blood sugar levels, could then give an indication of when to market to consumers (especially if you’re in the food business).

Use the Data to Incentivise the Consumer

A lot can be learnt about the consumer habits from the data generated by wearables. Most will (and some already do) have location based services built in, along with a host of other sensors and measuring devices. The data generated by fitness trackers could be used to incentivise consumers to live healthier lives by offering discounts on health insurance, and this is already happening in some large tech companies in America.

This would mean the consumer will lose more privacy to allow companies to track this data.

Wearable Technology Devices

Genuine Value Needs to be Bought to the Customer Experience

If businesses are going to start using wearable technology in their marketing, then genuine value needs to be bought to the customer experience, otherwise the customer will view it as the company being creepy.
The example given by Matt Granfield was combining the use of wearables with other digital marketing metrics such as website analytics to offer a personalised service to the customer by matching their browsing history with their current location.

Matt put it in context within a business setting: a Customer has viewed the Home Loans section of a bank’s website in the past couple of days and has then visited a branch to find out more. With this data the Branch Manager can personalise the service from the first meeting without having to find out what the customer is looking for.

To check out all the chatter and cool tech that was on show (including Matt Granfields ‘wearable’ UGG Boots) during the event search for the #nxbris hashtag on Twitter, you can also read about more in Digital Marketing on Reload Media’s Blog to stay tuned in for the future of marketing as we all eventually turn into cyborg like Jordan.

Wearables Technology 2015 Event Photo

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